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October 27, 2019

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Bills game

In full-on fight or flight mode, the Philadelphia Eagles fought their way in ugly conditions to an impressive 31-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. As always, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Adjust on the Fly' Award: The nasty weather in Orchard Park, NY

I know that when watching games on TV from the comfort of a living room, it's tough to really understand how bad the elements are, but it was a difficult day to play football. Watching Jake Elliott prior to the game, he missed three straight field goals from 43 yards out. I don't think I've ever seen him miss two straight before a game. And those misses were bad. I saw him kick one that started out straight, and then just took a right hand turn and missed by about 15 yards.

When he turned around and kicked the other way, with the wind, he made a 63 yarder with ease.

Hell, during pregame introductions, the two fireworks towers fell over, and the Bills made the wise decision to bring them inside. The wind even blew one of the pregame buffaloes out of position. Look at the middle buffalo below, and the downed fireworks thing:

When the Bills introduce players, it looks like the buffaloes are menacingly blowing smoke out of their noses. Instead, the smoke comically just went sideways.

Anyway, I've gone a long way to say that it was super windy, and the Eagles were forced to adjust to the conditions.

2) The 'Efficiency' Award: Carson Wentz

In the aforementioned bad conditions, Wentz was efficient throwing the football, completing 17 of 24 passes for 172 yards, a TD, and no INTs. He made good decisions, and few difficult throws into the teeth of the defense.

But it was two runs that really defined his day. On 3rd and 5 in the 4th quarter, Wentz saw a wide open lane and ran for 13 yards. Later on that drive, on 3rd and 10, a screen pass wasn't there, so he just followed the blocks that were meant for the screen and picked up the first down on his own, which taking a big shot at the end of the run.

This is just a talented quarterback making a tough, heady play: 

3) The 'Closers' Award: The Eagles' game-sealing drive

The two Wentz runs noted above were a major part of a 14-play drive that ate up over 8 minutes. But they weren't the only ones.

Jordan Howard ran the ball 8 times on the drive, getting hard yards in the middle of the Buffalo defense, and an 18-yard strike directly into the teeth of the wind to Zach Ertz set up the final score that put the game away. That was probably the Eagles' best drive of the season.

It's a passing league, but sometimes old-school football can be fun, too.

4) The 'Speed and Power' Award: Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard

After the Eagles' performance against the Packers in which the Eagles had their run game going, Sanders remarked that he brought the speed, while Howard brought the power. 

Sanders has been inconsistent at times this season, especially as a runner, but there's little doubt that he's a talented kid. When he figures this league out, he could be very good. Sanders provided the biggest play of the game, when he took off for a 65-yard TD run to open the second half:

Sanders' only had 3 carries on the day, but he made the most of them before exiting with a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, Howard was a sledgehammer all day, pushing piles, and keeping the Eagles' offense on the field. He ran 23 times for 96 yards. Oh, and in case you missed it, go give Sanders' TD run another look, and check out the lead block by Howard.

5) The 'Smashmouth' Award: The Eagles' offensive line

While not exactly a fun game if you love high-powered passing offense, this is a game that offensive linemen live for. It sure looked like the offensive line dominated, and the Eagles' 218 total rushing yards is pretty good evidence of that, but I can't wait to take a closer look on the re-watch.

6) The 'Coming Alive' Award: The Eagles' pass rush

The defensive play of the day came courtesy of Brandon Graham, who forced a fumble of Josh Allen on a designed run. He also made the recovery on the play. 

At the time, the Eagles were down 7-3, and needed a spark. That strip sack turned into a TD and subsequent two-point conversion. Graham added a sack, and also ended a Bills drive when he sniffed out a screen, shed a block and made a tackle short of the sticks. He has turned it on the last few weeks.

Meanwhile, Fletcher Cox got himself a sack and a half, and Derek Barnett added a sack-fumble. If Cox, Graham, and Barnett can continue to make plays alongside a potential trade deadline addition, this defensive line may still yet have some promise.

7) The 'Confusing Development' Award: The Eagles' cornerbacks

I'm not sure if there was a blue moon or if Halley's Comet was passing by today, but we all saw an extremely rare event on Sunday. The corners covered!

Bills receivers were targeted 17 times, and they made just 9 catches for 101 yards and a TD. Of course, the Bills' receivers aren't exactly the Greatest Show on Turf, and the Eagles' corners were aided by the bad weather, but let them have their day.

8) The 'Not So Special Teams' Award: Boston Scott

The Eagles have lost fumbles on punts 3 times in 8 games this season. There are days when the Eagles struggle to stop opposing offenses, and when they're finally able to get off the field, you can't continue to have these demoralizing turnovers, giving the ball right back to the opponent. They have got to clean that up.

9) The 'Home Sweet Home' Award: The rest of the Eagles' season

The next time the Eagles go on the road will be December 1, and there's a decent chance, at least if they stay alive, that their fans will outnumber home team fans in their final 3 road games:

  1. Week 13 in Miami, Dec 1
  2. Week 15 in Washington, Dec 15
  3. Week 17 in New Jersey, Dec 29

Today was arguably the Birds' last true road game.

10) The 'Game Ball' Award: Orlando Scandrick

I don't know if the comments made by Orlando Scandrick earlier in the week added fuel to the Eagles' fire on Sunday, but they played a tough football game in crappy conditions in their third of three straight road games (not easy to do) when they desperately needed a win.

These Eagles players, or at least the ones who have been around for a while, will always best be known for winning Philadelphia's first Super Bowl. Scandrick will probably best be known for the day he went on a TV all day bashing a group of players who actually know what it feels like to win it all.

Anyway, send that man a game ball, and have it signed by Malcolm Jenkins.

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